Publishers are going green

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As the world gets greener and greener, some publishers are, too, even though it may mean higher costs.

Publishers that have gone green are mostly doing it through the use of recycled paper. These include Northstar Travel Media, which shifted its Meetings & Conventions to recycled paper after initially exploring it as a way to generate more advertising dollars for sponsored recycled sections. It then discovered it could actually save money by using recycled paper.

"That's not the norm," said Robert Brai, director of production at Northstar Travel Media. "It was only because we were using a pretty expensive, high-quality sheet."

Generally, there is a $1 to $4 charge per hundredweight when using recycled paper because of higher production costs, according to Brai, who said consumer publishers have more incentive to use recycled paper because it helps boost a title's image much more than in the b-to-b sector.

Northstar is looking to move some of its other titles to recycled paper, though the same stock won't be used, Brai said. "With every title come different sensibilities and expectations from the team putting together the magazine, the advertisers and the subscribers. So we need to take all of that into consideration," he said.

The Forest Stewardship Council is becoming the de facto standard bearer for recycled paper in the U.S., Brai said. In order to be considered recycled, FSC requires the paper contain only 10% post-consumer waste product. So there are varying levels of recycled paper.

Meetings & Conventions went with an 80% choice over two others—10% and 30%. "That market made it clear that it was happy with the highest percentage paper," Brai said. "It hits a button with certain people and certain advertisers. There's no downside to it. No one will look unfavorably at you for using recycled paper."

BNP Media's Environmental Design+Construction has been printed on 100% recycled paper since April 2006. "Since we're an environmental magazine, we really wanted to show that we practice what we preach," said Monica Hackney, the title's production manager. "We were 10% recycled but then decided to go all-out."

ED+C pays a premium for the paper. "We have to special order the paper, so it takes a little longer. But that is not a real problem," Hackney said.

The more publishers go green in the U.S., the more likely it will be that printers will install green printing lines. Northstar currently prints in Germany because Leipa Georg Leinfelder has created a fully green printing plant.

But Brai doesn't predict that kind of switch will happen anytime soon. "Right now, a lot of America's recycled product goes to China to be put into boxes and that sort of thing," he said. "And that won't change overnight."

John Koten, CEO of Mansueto Ventures, whose Fast Company and Inc. both use recycled paper imported from Europe, agreed. "I have not seen a race to use recycled paper in our industry," he said.

Koten said environmental consciousness is important to him and that people expect this kind of initiative from a company that publishes Fast Company and Inc., which he called "magazines about the cutting edge of business."

Advertisers increasingly seem to appreciate the recycled paper, Koten said. "Our readers like it, too," he said. "We do not feel that we lose any quality of reproduction. We spent a lot of time looking for this paper, and we continue to investigate other options."

Mansueto has taken other steps to be green, including moving its headquarters into New York's first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Efficiency Design) certified office building.

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